Always in Sixes
In the early 90’s, there were several independently owned record stores in the Salt Lake area. Three of my favorites were Starbound Records and Tapes (opened sometime in the late 70’s), located in West Valley City, Modified (9th and 9th location) and Graywhale CD. The first CD I bought (Milltown Brothers-Slinky) after returning home from my mission was from Starbound. The owner used to DJ dances at Kennedy Jr High, where I went to 7th and 8th grade. I shopped there off and on until it went out of business in the late 90’s. For many years, it was the one of the rare places where you could still buy vinyl.
Modified was my favorite Salt Lake record store…ever. I found import discs I had never heard of from bands I thought I knew backwards and forwards. I liked to buy two or three from bands I knew, then ask for a recommendation from the staff. They rarely guided me wrong. Modified moved several times before superstores like FYE and Media Play drove them out of business roughly around the same time as Starbound.
Through it all, Graywhale has endured. I have shopped at the downtown location for nearly fifteen years and used the Taylorsville location when I attended the community college. I figure half of my collection comes from Graywhale and it is by far the hardest place for me to just window shop. With so much of the space dedicated to used (often inexpensively priced) discs, I can always find something I have wanted, thought on, wondered about, for under ten bucks.
They always had classic stickers and yesterday, when I went in, I picked up three. But the fun doesn’t stop there.
I went in with the explicit purpose of grabbing a copy of Kylesa’s ‘From the Vault Vol1’ which I somehow missed when it was released last year. On the shelf right next to it was the latest release from Cult of Luna, then Intronaut…
One after the other, CD after CD presented itself to me, things I did not expect to find. Up and down the rows I walked, piling one thing after another into my hands. After thirty minutes I knew I couldn’t justify buying all these things. With close to fifteen items, I had to make some decisions, leave most of this for another day. If I had been forced to make this choice in the days before Amazon, when the best part of CD shopping was serendipitous discovery, I am not sure I could have left anything behind. I might never come across some of these albums again for a decade. Now, I know that as long as I remember the things I put back, I can find them again. One click with the mouse and they will be on the way to my house. Not as romantic or pleasing as finding them in a used bin in the decaying upstairs room of Graywhale CD, but some things change, regardless of my trying to recreate them.
I ended up with six (again).
The latest releases from all these artists.
Cult of Luna-Vertikal. Isis-like but a bit more…Swedish. This record is filled with what made me like them in the first place: Long, drone-filled songs with slow, heavy guitars, guttural vocals, and a tone that feels apocalyptic, and strangely hopeful.
Depeche Mode-Delta Machine. I haven’t listened to this one yet. I am sure it will sound like DM. Gotta keep those collections as complete as possible, right?
Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle-Perils From the Sea. Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek and the electronic musings of Lavalle (who I am not familiar with) create an interesting mix. I am not used to MK without his signature guitar sound but this is growing on me.
Kylesa-From the Vault Vol 1. Outtakes, alternate versions and unreleased stuff. Yeah, this one was the reason for the season, but it has yet to be played. I am sure I will love it.
Intronaut-Habitual Levitations (instilling words with tones). Wow! This is the best record yet from this band. The songwriting is on point and the dynamics are an obvious leap forward. I have played this record through twice and I cant get enough of it. If you like metal, like complex and interesting sounding stuff, try this record.
Big Country (WTF?)-The Journey. Before I say anything else, I rarely like when band members keep the same band name after a key member leaves or dies, especially when it is the vocalist. The band is never the same (think The Who, AC/DC), even if the songs are interesting. Stuart Adamson committed suicide in 2001 and his voice, his guitar sound IS Big Country. Tony Butler has also left the band. By default, this is no longer Big Country.
Honestly though, this record is really, really good. The addition of Mike Peters (The Alarm) on vocals works well. The songs are tight and the sound reminds me of Big Country from the late 90’s. Still, This is not BC and a new name would have been a good idea.